Bike Gear: Cheap Panniers

After installing the car seat in our cargo bike, I realized that our panniers would not be large enough to carry groceries if we needed to grab groceries with the baby on board. We have some panniers but we always end up carrying items on top of our rack or in a backpack when riding our normal bikes. The cargo bike has been perfect for big grocery hauls, and so we know roughly what volume we typically carry.

Bakfiets with convertible car seat

We looked into larger panniers and the cost was .. a little shocking. We don’t have the space or need for expensive, large panniers. We just need them for the ride to and from the grocery store! Our other panniers are fine for a day out.

Natasha looked into a bunch of DIY options and realized that large IKEA bags are about perfect in volume and dimensions. Total cost is between $35 and $50.

We bought IKEA bags, IKEA towel hooks and IKEA bungee cables.

We bought some crazy carpets from Canadian Tire, because we wanted to make wheel covers with them and figured they would be of use here as well.

Natasha made and designed most of the panniers.

We had 1/4″ plywood cut to size and rounded the corners ourselves with a hand saw. Holes drilled for grommets and for the towel hooks. Below you can see the same shape cut out of crazy carpet. The crazy carpet is to have a smooth, clean surface on the inside of the bag. The holes are offset so the panniers will sit back a bit so your heel doesn’t clip them when pedalling.

Plywood. Top of image is bottom of bag.

The crazy carpet was attached to the inside of the plywood with thumb tacks.

The large holes correspond to grommets installed half way down the bag. All holes in the IKEA bags were reinforced with Tenacious Tape. Grommets were installed through the bag and crazy carpet.

The top holes were for towel hooks. We used machine screws with acorn nuts. Washers were used on all sides of the plywood.

The grommets were for the bungee cord to clip to. The bungee cord clips onto the rack.

The panniers sit nicely on our rack! We tested their structural integrity by loading them with 8L of water and no problems.

If you want to close the bag, just tie the large handles!

The handles are very nice to carry groceries up the stairs or elevator. When inside the panniers lay almost completely flat and fit in our hall closet almost perfectly.

Not bad for a low cost, compact panniers!

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